Naval Ravikant’s Talk at New Frontiers Summit – March 2019 (Part 2)

Watch Here

Check out the Podcast Notes for Part I

Key Takeaways

  • “Today, no government has put their weight behind a cryptocurrency. Whichever cryptocurrency gets a legitimate government putting their weight behind it first will win the crypto wars. Winning the crypto wars is worth a minimum of $10 trillion (the value of gold), not even counting all the other use cases. If you’re willing to stick your neck out as a country, your people will benefit.”
    • Naval has a tweet related to this – “You get paid for being right first, and to be first you can’t wait for consensus”
  • In the digital world, the upside is so large that there’s almost no such thing as risk
  • The best businesses always look strange at first
  • “A rational person can find peace by cultivating indifference to the things outside their control”
  • In most cases, the destructive powers of technology arrive before the creative power, but the creative capabilities of technology are unlimited
  • Escape competition through authenticity
    • “No one can compete with you on being you”
  • The internet enables you, no matter how weird or strange you are, to find your tribe
    • There’s an online community for nearly ANYTHING
  • We NEED to have a culture of adult education
    • What if every 4 years, it was expected and socially/culturally acceptable (and there was financial support) for you to go back to school for a year to learn a new technology-related skill?
  • On time:
    • “Busy is the death of productivity”
    • “You have to get bored before you can get creative…you can’t be creative on schedule”
      • “And ALL the great endeavors in life are creative”
    • “I would encourage everyone to be RUTHLESS about not scheduling things. You will HAVE to disappoint people, but when they want your time, that’s their problem, not yours.”
    • Spend your time doing only what YOU can uniquely do
    • “I need 4-5 hours of time by myself every day doing NOTHING. Because if I don’t have that time, I won’t be able to do ANYTHING.”

Intro

  • Naval (@Naval) is the co-founder of AngelList
  • He hosts The Naval Podcast – check out the Podcast Notes
    • If this is your first introduction to Naval, gives these Podcast Notes a read from his appearance on The Knowledge Project, thought by many to be the best podcast of all time

Blockchain and Crypto

  • The 3 categories of base-blockchains:
    • Bitcoin (optimized for security and decentralization)
    • Etherium (optimized for programmability)
    • Privacy coins like Zcash and Monero (optimized for replacing cash with digital cash)
  • We’re at a place where we could use blockchain technology to disrupt the cellphone carriers
    • Companies like Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint are monopolies
    • Today, we have the capability to stitch together Wi-Fi networks 
      • People leave their home Wi-Fi networks closed, but what if there was an incentive to leave them open?
        • What might this look like?
          • If you were walking by a house with an open network, your phone might pay a “micro-penny” using some sort of Wi-Fi coin in order to use the network
          • Wherever there were gaps in coverage, people could open up new networks in order to earn more Wi-Fi-coin
  • Tokens can help bootstrap networks and solve the “cold-start problem”
    • For example – The Wi-Fi network mentioned above would be programmed so that early adopters (people providing the first Wi-Fi access points) would be given more tokens
  • “There are no barriers to adoption in crypto”
    • A ride-sharing coin network could be started somewhere like New Zealand and then navigate across the globe
      • This is why it makes sense for countries to have friendly regulatory environments, allowing these kinds of companies/networks to be built with ease

Naval’s Retirement Scheme for an Entire Country

  • In these Podcast Notes, Naval talked about his retirement scheme for an entire country, which he touched on again here:
    • A country buys up 20% of a cryptocurrency with the plan to adopt it, announces the coin will become legal/it will slowly start being weaved into the economy (you’ll be able to bank with it, it’ll be tied in with credit cards etc.), and then allows the remaining 80% to be bought up by citizens
      • Citizens will buy it knowing other nearby countries would soon adopt it as well, and as the currency becomes valuable, people would then be able to retire from the surplus of wealth
        • (As early adopters, the citizens of the adopting country would be filthy rich)
  • “Today, no government has put their weight behind a cryptocurrency. Whichever cryptocurrency gets a legitimate government putting their weight behind it first will win the crypto wars. Winning the crypto wars is worth a minimum of $10 trillion (the value of gold), not even counting all the other use cases. If you’re willing to stick your neck out as a country, your people will benefit.”
    • Naval has a tweet related to this – “You get paid for being right first, and to be first you can’t wait for consensus”
      • “Waiting for consensus is expensive”

The Upside Side of the Digital Age

  • Naval talked about this more in these Podcast Notes
  • Silicon Valley essentially places zero penalty on failure
    • You have almost unlimited upside if something works and very limited downside
  • “It’s probably just as hard to start a successful restaurant as it is to start a successful tech company”
    • They probably work the same number of hours etc.
    • But tech companies have almost an unlimited market with zero cost of replication
  • “In the digital world, the upside is so large that there’s almost no such thing as risk”

Be First

  • “Whatever the geeks are doing in their garage on weekends is what the entire earth will be doing 20 years later as a mainstream thing”
    • Countries should encourage a culture of tinkering, experimentation, and following intellectual curiosity
  • “The best businesses always look strange at first, it’s only in hindsight that they become accepted asset classes”
    • Before Microsoft – no one invested in software
      • Venture investors thought you could only make money in hardware (Why? –  People would just copy “bits”)
    • Before Google – VCs only invested in paid software, not free services
    • Many VCs passed on Uber due to the trend of only investing in bits, not atoms (aka moving cars)

Follow Your Intellectual Curiosity

  • “You’re better off following your genuine intellectual curiosity rather than chasing whatever’s hot right now”
    • As an individual, if all you do is chase trends, you’ll go insane
    • So as a nation – Whatever it is you’re naturally good at doing – do!
      • Exploit your geographical and education advantages

Happiness – Don’t Take on All the World’s Problems

  • Naval once tweeted – “A rational person can find peace by cultivating indifference to the things outside their control”
    • (“All my tweets are just me talking to myself”)
  • But this isn’t common – humans get interested/outraged about everything and then signal their involvement as a way of getting social validation
  • There are only a few things in life we deeply care about – it’s best to focus on those and not get distracted by everything else that comes along
  • Humans evolved to live in tribes of 150 people, not to have all the world’s breaking news and emergencies delivered to us through a constant stream of notifications
  • “If you take on all the world’s problems, it will destroy you…you can’t help people while you’re drowning”
    • Just stay focused on your task and do it well

Audience Questions

Will tech enable the expansion of consciousness?

  • “Technology is a tool and it can be used for anything”
  • Technology is helping people mediate with apps like Calm and Headspace
    • If you think about what meditation actually is, 15 years ago you probably wouldn’t have guessed technology would be able to make much of a difference
  • Things like yoga and utilizing “plant-medicine” have become more widespread due to technology
    • People travel to Peru to try Ayahuasca (facilitated by airplanes..another piece of technology)
    • The internet spreads the message about the benefits of psychedelics
  • Since the brain is just made up of electrical signals, perhaps we’ll one day be able to hack them (by wearing some sort of electrode hat) to facilitate feelings of happiness, meaning etc.
  • In Roman times, people were kept busy with things like circuses and sharing food
    • In modern times – we just use cannabis, video games, and Netflix
  • But tech can also be used as a negative
    • “Social media brings people together to form digital mobs to fight each other”
  • “In many cases, the destructive powers of technology arrive before the creative powers, but the creative capabilities of technology are unlimited”
    • When you create something, it’s nearly impossible to predict the levels it can go to

Escape Competition Through Authenticity

  • In Rene Girard’s Mimetic Theory he talks about how most of your desires are mimicked from the people around you, picked up at a very young age
    • Advertising is an obvious example of this
    • But so is something like going to law school and competing with everyone for the same law clerkship 
  • “There’s a way of getting sucked into competition by looking around you”
  • Escape competition through authenticity – “No one can compete with you on being you”
    • “The most successful entrepreneurs are authentic to who they are and what they uniquely can do”
  • The internet enables you, no matter how weird or strange you are, to find your tribe
    • There’s an online community for nearly ANYTHING
  • Competition is NOT the reality
    • Every human being is SO unique that there is no substitute for them whatsoever
      • Companies are the same (they’re just collections of humans)
  • “We’re coming out of a factory-based industrial world that was built in the 1800s under a one size fits all model for efficiency reasons and we’re heading into a boutique artisanal world where 7 billion people will want 7 billion products”
  • “You do NOT want to compete, you want to be a market of one”

Adult Education

  • The divide between the rich and poor is growing
    • “I don’t think that’s a side effect of capital markets, I think it’s a natural side effect of technology”
  • Technology is the ultimate form of leverage
    • You can code up a million “robots” to work for you with the right algorithm
  • The Leverage Timeline (The Main Sources of Capital)
    • The number of people working for you used to be the most important source of capital
    • Then the question revolved around money – “What kind of revenue are you doing?” or “How much money are you managing?’
    • Now the main source of capital is how many “robots”, programmers, and machines you have working for you
      • “THOSE are the ultimate force multipliers”
  • So how do we reduce the widening gap between the rich/poor? – Technology education
    • Why is it that kids are the only ones who are educated?
      • “We have this myth that adults can’t be educated – they either self-educate or they can’t be educated”
    • “We NEED to have a culture of adult education”
      • What if every 4 years, it was expected and socially/culturally acceptable (and there was financial support) for you to go back to school for a year to learn a new technology-related skill?

Is crypto/blockchain really “winner take all”?

  • Once there’s a protocol for money transfer/wealth storage in crypto (like using Bitcoin) – you probably wouldn’t want a #2 option
    • Just like language – imagine starting a movement to make Hindi the official language in the U.S. – it wouldn’t get very far

Protect Your Time at All Costs

  • “I’m not a busy person and I’m not busy because I refuse to schedule things.”
    • “Busy is the death of productivity”
    • People spend so much time responding to meeting requests and inbound notifications, squandering away all their time and energy
    • “You have to get bored before you can get creative…you can’t be creative on schedule”
      • “And ALL the great endeavors in life are creative”
  • “I don’t believe in work time. I just believe in time and you can spend it doing whatever you want to do.”
    • “In general, avoid getting into situations where you’re sacrificing today for an imagined tomorrow’
  • “I would encourage everyone to be RUTHLESS about not scheduling things. You will HAVE to disappoint people, but when they want your time, that’s their problem, not yours.”
  • Spend your time doing only what YOU can uniquely do
    • That’s a gift to people who need whatever you’re making
  • “I need 4-5 hours of time by myself every day doing NOTHING. Because if I don’t have that time, I won’t be able to do ANYTHING.”
    • It doesn’t really need to be stated, but Naval probably fills that time by reading/meditating, not literally doing nothing

Adult Education – Part 2

  • “The bigger problem this generation will face is adult education, not child education”
    • Children are learning machines – they just need the tools (they’re there – but they’re evenly distributed)
    • It’s the adults that are the bigger problem
      • The means are there – anyone can learn nearly anything on the internet
      • But – “It’s the desire to learn that’s scarce”
  • Maybe instead of universal basic income or unemployment benefits, governments should hand out 1-year education stipends

Technology Literacy

  • “Learning isn’t that time consuming actually. We have this model where you spend 8 hours a day learning in a classroom, but you’re not learning 8 hours a day.”
    • There’s a lot of fluff in there
    • “When it comes to technology literacy, I bet 2 hours a day for 6 months is really sufficient for most people”
      • (Enough that they’re not scared of technology)
  • Why is it important people get over their fear of technology?
    • It’s similar to how you’re understanding of mathematics determines how much science you can learn (you won’t pick up a book past your understanding level)
    • “Your knowledge gets you to a fear threshold – your limit to what you can learn”
      • So not everybody needs to learn enough computer skills to become a computer scientist, but they should have a basic level of understanding so they’re not afraid to go learn more computer science if they choose to do so

These notes were edited by RoRoPa Editing Services

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